Writing Assignment: Leave Me Out Of It

by Jason Rehmus on November 30, 2012

While Randy is on hiatus recovering from a writing-induced ailment, some friends are taking up the slack. Today’s post is by Jason Rehmus.

Writing on the web is a very self-centered affair. Much of what we write is shared on social media and is usually in the context of what I like, what I think, or how I feel. This is fine, but sometimes you need to share about someone else, and speaking from your own perspective may lack empathy.

For example, if a photographer friend posts some beautiful photographs, how do you encourage her? On Twitter or Facebook, you’re very likely to say, “I love those pictures!” There’s nothing wrong with this, but ask yourself who is the subject of that thought. You are the subject in that sentence, not your friend.

To offer a more genuine message of encouragement, consider taking yourself out of the thought completely. You could focus on the photos: “Those pictures are beautiful.” Or you can make the sentiment even more powerful by making your friend the subject of the message: “You always take such beautiful pictures.”

Today’s assignment is to write an encouraging letter to a friend or family member and remove yourself completely from every sentence of the letter. Don’t start a sentence with “I” and don’t make the object of the sentence “me” or “us.” Make the subject your friend by using their name or by using the pronoun “you.”

It’s going to be harder than you think, but the end result will be a message that is completely focused on the person you’re encouraging.

Learn how to rewrite sentences from different perspectives. Shifting subjects and objects around will open up your view of the topics you write about and will come in handy every day you write.

The Writing Assignment: Leave Me Out Of It by Jason Rehmus, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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